The Data Brief

A monthly data protection bulletin from the barristers at 5 Essex Chambers

Media interviews of children: the importance of parental consent

30 March 2022

IVT v Romania (app no 35582/15, European Court of Human Rights, Fourth Section)

In this case, an 11-year-old was interviewed by journalists without prior parental consent about the accidental death of a school mate during a school trip. The interview was broadcast on television, including her image. She believed that teachers and fellow pupils treated her negatively as a result. Her claim against the broadcaster under Romanian law failed. She brought a claim to Strasbourg alleging a failure to protect her right to respect for her private life under Article 8 ECHR. The Romanian Government resisted the claim, asserting that the law permitting the broadcast reflected the freedom of public expression regarding facts of public interest, and asserting that there was no link between any damage to her reputation and the broadcast.

The Fourth Section noted the positive obligation on the State to protect private and family life, even in the sphere of relations between individuals. There is also a positive obligation to take into account particular vulnerabilities, including as regards young children. The Fourth Section held that the Romanian courts had only ‘superficially engaged’ with the required Article 8/Article 10 balancing exercise, and in particular noted the failure to take into proper account the lack of parental consent. There was accordingly a breach of Article 8, although no claim for damages had been made.

The outcome is perhaps unsurprising. It seems self-evident that a parent or guardian should be consulted before an 11 year-old-child is interviewed about a traumatic event by the media. But given the current UK debate as to freedom of expression and over the extent of positive duties under the Human Rights Act, this is an interesting example of how these concepts are being applied by the Strasbourg court in a common sense way.

Further reading

IVT v Romania, app no 35582/15

The Data Brief

A monthly data protection bulletin from the barristers at 5 Essex Chambers

The Data Brief is edited by Francesca Whitelaw KC, Aaron Moss and John Goss, barristers at 5 Essex Chambers, with contributions from the whole information law, data protection and AI Team.

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